From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- First flying bugs, now a flying bat.When it comes to the postseason, Joba Chamberlain is jinxed.The Yankees hope their season isn't, too.Chamberlain was knocked out of Game 4 of the AL division series on Thursday night when the barrel of Matt Wieters' broken bat hit him on the right elbow in the 12th inning. The Baltimore Orioles went on to a 2-1 victory that forced a decisive Game 5 on Friday night, getting the go-ahead run when Manny Machado doubled against David Phelps leading off the 13th and scored on J.J. Hardy's RBI double."I don't know if I'd hang out with me very much. I might need a bubble," Chamberlain said.He might not be the only one.On another Bronx night filled with controversy, Alex Rodriguez was pinch hit for once again. Eric Chavez batted in place of slumping A-Rod and ended the game with a lineout to third off Jim Johnson."I just do what I'm told," Chavez said. "It's kind of crazy."Now it's up to CC Sabathia to show he's an ace, taking the mound Friday night against Jason Hammel in a rematch of Game 1 starters."It's time to go," Sabathia said. "This is a one-game playoff, and this is what we play for. We're here in the Bronx at home, and like I said, I'll be excited and ready to go."New York outlasted Baltimore for the AL East title last week. Now the Yankees will try to do it again and advance to the AL championship series against Detroit."It's the same game whether it's the first game of the season or the postseason," said Derek Jeter, who shifted to designated hitter because of a sore left foot. "We're going to try to have fun with it, enjoy it."New York had runners on base in each of the first eight innings, but the Yankees went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position and dropped to 6 for 28 (.214) in the series.A-Rod, 2 for 16 (.125) with no RBIs and nine strikeouts, fanned against side-arming right-hander Darren O'Day with runners on second and third and one out in the eighth. Nick Swisher then flied out."It's obviously frustrating," Rodriguez said. "That was a situation that I could do some damage, and just couldn't get it done tonight."He's not the only slumping star. Curtis Granderson is 1 for 16 (.125) with nine Ks. Robinson Cano is 2 for 18 (.111) and hitless in his last 11 at-bats. Russell Martin is batting .214, Ichiro Suzuki .200 and Swisher .133."There's really good pitching," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "There's guys on the other side that are struggling, too. You're seeing some really good pitching in these four games."Girardi won't know until Friday whether his bullpen will include Chamberlain, who has had enough mound misfortunes to fill a horror film.He was just another normal hard-throwing young gun before Game 2 of the 2007 division series. Then midges swarmed him on the mound in Cleveland and, with those bugs all around, he threw a tying wild pitch in a game the Indians went on to win 2-1 in 11 innings for a 2-0 series lead.A torn elbow ligament sidelined him in June 2011, and he was close to his return during spring training when he dislocated his right ankle in a trampoline accident while playing with his son. He finally returned on Aug. 1 -- against the Orioles -- and developed back into a dependable part of the Yankees' bullpen.Wieters led off the 12th with a single to left field, and a large piece of his bat went twirling toward the mound and hit Chamberlain's surgically repaired pitching elbow. Chamberlain threw down his glove and bent over in pain.After he was checked out by trainer Steve Donahue, Chamberlain threw three test pitches and came out. The Yankees said his elbow was bruised and X-rays were negative."You kind of see how it feels tomorrow and go from there," Chamberlain said. "It's definitely not as stiff as it was when it first happened."After Hardy's double -- his first RBI of the series, Johnson pitched a 1-2-3 bottom half. No Yankees' comeback this time, not like in Game 3 when Raul Ibanez batted for A-Rod and hit a tying homer in the ninth and a winning home run in the 12th of a 3-2 win."We'll come out ready and go out there and we'll fight and try to make it happen," Ibanez said.This matchup could hardly be more even. New York and Baltimore have split 22 games this season, with the Yankees outscoring the Orioles 103-101. Over the two extra-inning games, the Orioles' threw 331 pitches to the Yankees' 327."The baseball gods let you up off the deck if you stay true to the game," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. "We've got a big challenge ahead of us tomorrow, but we have an opportunity."Hours earlier, Girardi wiped his eyes during a pregame moment of silence for his father, who died last weekend. Girardi didn't tell his players until the death became public Thursday, not wanting to distract them from the task at hand.Nate McLouth's fifth-inning home run was offset by Cano's RBI grounder in the sixth, and McLouth saved a run in the fifth with a leaping catch against the wall in left-center on Jayson Nix's drive with a man on.It stayed that way in a battle of the bullpens. Baltimore's allowed four hits in 7 1-3 scoreless innings, and the Yankees gave up a run and four hits over 6 1-3.New York wasted a fine outing by Phil Hughes, who allowed one run and four hits in 6 1-3 innings with eight strikeouts and three walks -- all leading off innings.New York had hoped to avoid this. The Yankees wanted to end this series in four games, allowing Sabathia to start the AL championship series opener Saturday night.Sabathia held off the Orioles in winning the opener 7-2, allowing two runs and eight hits in 8 2-3 innings. The Yankees need him to do it again just to advance to the ALCS for the first time since 2010. And if they do get there, Sabathia likely wouldn't start against until Game 4 on the road.Like everything with this year's Yankees, nothing comes easily."This is going to be awesome," said Swisher, who could be playing his final game in pinstripes. "It's almost inevitable there's going to be a Game 5. We're not stressing. We know what we have to do. This place is going to be rocking and rolling."
SAN FRANCISCO — In the bottom of the eighth inning Monday, with the Giants finally running away with one, Johnny Cueto started blowing into a giant wad of bubble gum. He held two hands out, ready to catch remnants of an explosion as Brandon Crawford and Kelby Tomlinson looked on and smiled.
A few minutes later, players started migrating to the dugout rail as they have done in each of the three starts Ryder Jones has made. They are ready to cheer on a rookie’s first big league hit, even if the wait has been an excruciating one for the third baseman.
Bruce Bochy likes to say that your personality is better when you’re winning, and his players certainly showed that Monday in snapshots here and there. They woke up to a report that there were fractured in the clubhouse, caused in large part by the new closer. They denied it, they met as a group, and then, finally, they won.
Jeff Samardzija pitched as he has for two months, the top of the lineup came through over and over again, and Brandon Crawford paced a golden night with the gloves. A 9-2 win over the Rockies was just the second since June 11 and it snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Rockies. Any win is meaningful at this point, but this one seemed to mean just a little bit more given the drama of the day.
“Despite what people might think, we still have a pretty good group here and we get along just fine,” Crawford said. “We’re all rooting for each other.”
It’s one thing to support teammates off the field, and there’s been no indication that the Giants aren’t doing that. It’s quite another to be hand-in-hand between the lines, and for much of this season, Samardzija has been on an island.
The right-hander has been Bochy’s best pitcher since Madison Bumgarner went down in the hills outside Denver. But he entered Monday with a 2-9 record and 4.74 ERA inflated by faulty defense. He hasn’t grumbled, but he has grown accustomed to the worst, and when Nolan Arenado bounced a ball deep to the hole in shortstop with two on and two outs in the third, Samardzija figured the game was probably tied.
“I’m thinking maybe they charge it in the outfield and maybe make a play at home,” Samardzija said. “But with a guy like that at shortstop, things change so fast.”
Crawford scooped the ball on the edge of the grass. He would have liked nothing more than to make an otherworldly throw to first to nail his World Baseball Classic teammate, but he knew the best chance was at third. A couple of days ago, Crawford and Jones discussed how the rookie should cover third on such a play. Jones played it perfectly, retreating in time to catch Crawford’s inning-ending throw.
“The best thing (about Crawford) is he doesn’t even talk about it,” Samardzija said.
No, Crawford put the spotlight on Jones.
“That’s a pretty heads-up play,” he said. “We talked about it and he was there. It was a funny coincidence.”
The play held the lead, and the Giants kept pushing. The top four hitters in the lineup finished with 10 hits, six RBI and six runs. Brandon Belt had an RBI triple in the five-spot. Crawford drove in a run behind him. Gorkys Hernandez and Kelby Tomlinson added insurance from the bottom. Bochy watched it all from the top step and saw a group collectively relax.
“Just quit fighting it so much,” he said. “There’s a lot of talent in this offense. There’s no reason they can’t put consistent runs on the board. Tonight I just thought the at-bats were so much better and the focus was. Once it started rolling, guys felt better about themselves, and it just got contagious.”
SAN FRANCISCO — On a day that started with controversy, Giants players called a meeting following batting practice. Perhaps they were talking about when and where to stretch. Perhaps a reminder was given to keep clubhouse complaints in the actual clubhouse.
Or, perhaps, the players just decided that enough was enough.
In a rare display, the Giants put a clean and complete game together. They beat the Rockies 9-2 at AT&T Park, getting just their second win since June 11 and snapping a nine-game losing streak to the Rockies.
Jeff Samardzija continued his hot streak, the lineup was opportunistic and flashed some power, and the defense sparkled at times. Here are five things to know from the throwback night …
—- Samardzija walked off to a standing ovation after throwing 112 pitches. He was charged with two earned in 6 1/3 innings. Ignore the record and ERA for a second — his FIP is 3.37 and his xFIP is 2.95. He really is having a very good and underrated season.
—- Here’s another one for your Samardzija file: Over the past two months, he has 82 strikeouts and three walks.
—- It was a good day in the race for another Brandon Crawford Gold Glove. Adeiny Hechavarria, one of the few in the National League who even approaches Crawford, was traded to the Rays. Crawford added to the reel by gunning a runner down on third and making a nifty spin-and-throw in the fourth to rob Ian Desmond of a hit.
—- There are nights where Denard Span looks like a game-changer, and this was one of them. He had a single, walk and triple in his first three plate appearances, scoring twice as the Giants built a 5-0 lead. He was spry in center, too
—- Nolan Arenado was 0 for 4. Apparently that’s legal now. (It was actually his ninth 0 for 4 or worse against the Giants, in 81 games.)
—- Bonus sixth fact since the Giants won a game: Sam Dyson, acquired basically for free, is the new setup man. That didn’t take long, and it probably won’t be changing anytime soon. Dyson gave up a single but struck out the other three batters he faced.